reviews

Book Review: The Other Side of the River

13603729_1759471264265088_2502141005184380413_o“Braids, tapestries, and currents in the river show us the way again and again–it cannot be one clear way or another, it has got to be both ways and together.”

–Eila Carrico, The Other Side of the River

It has taken me many months to review this book and as I sit down to write about it, I find myself at a loss for words. Go. Read it. It is a powerful book.

The Other Side of the River is a lyrical personal narrative that runs in multiple streams and ripples of thought to one riverrushing river: Women’s lives matter. Women’s stories matter. Women’s bodies matter. Women’s voices matter. Women’s lives and the health of the planet are inextricably intertwined. It is gorgeous and also stunning in its complexity. As I read it, I kept thinking, “how did she do this?” How did she weave so many experiences and thoughts and insights into this one text that flows so powerfully together? In The Other Side of the River, author Eila Carrico’s personal experiences and stories of her life are interwoven with descriptions, thoughts, and experiences from the world’s waters and her travels to many different bodies of water. Eila has listened to the river, learned from the waters, and these many ripples blend together into a juicy, creative, thought-provoking, complex web of questions, thoughts, and lessons. As we journey with her from the Florida marshlands to New Orleans, to San Francisco, to Africa, to India, to London, and even some time in the Mojave Desert, we also meet many water goddesses from world culture and are treated to an evocative exploration of the Goddess, the sacred feminine, at work in women’s lives and in the world as a whole. We learn from Tara and Aphrodite and Ganga and Oshun and Cailleach and Kali, all swirling together in a labyrinthine journey of depth and profundity.

Published by Womancraft Publishing, The Other Side of the River is not only a personal memoir, but a treatise on ecofeminism, ecology, and environmentalism. I discovered ecofeminism during my doctoral studies and have often returned to a phrase womb ecology reflects world ecology, world ecology reflects womb ecology. In this book we come to see how the damming of the rivers, the polluting of the oceans, the re-routing of the streams, reflects the stifling of women’s voices, the control of women’s bodies, and the oppression of women’s lives.

“I imagine that women look outside for answers because they cannot feel the wisdom of their own bodies anymore. Years of creating an icy barrier to keep out the stares, the calls, the threat of rape and worse. Women take care of their friends and families, but they do not take care of themselves. Women have lost what sustains them, forgotten what brings them to live, pushed down their rage and denied their need for rest..

…I think of the time during and after the witch burnings in Europe as a time when once fluid women chose to turn themselves into ice for self-preservation. They decidedly slowed and suppressed their wisdom of ways sensitive to the natural landscape and began to lives much further beneath the surface of their skin. They learned to conceal, conserve and control themselves to survive.”

–Eila Carrico

I am reminded of a quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes: Be wild! That is how to clear the river.

It is hard for me to write as compellingly as I would like to about such a compelling book. Please read it and let its magic stream through you too.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Crossposted at SageWoman and Brigid’s Grove.

Categories: books, embodiment, feminism, feminist thealogy, Goddess, resources, reviews, self-care, spirituality, women, writing | 2 Comments

Red Tent Wisdom

“Moontime opens up our intuition.
By allowing ourselves to honour this time,
we can eliminate premenstrual tendencies…
Moontime is a sacred passage leading
to a greater awareness of self.”

–Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon (p. 142)

In April, on the evening of our local Red Tent Circle, a package arrived for me from the UK. In it was the beautiful book by Veronika Robinson, Cycle to the Moon, that I won in the Red Tent fundraising auction for Moontimes. March 2015 183

Cycle to the Moon is a quick read and an inspiring one. The line illustrations are beautiful and the combination of journal pages/prompts and text is nice. I marked some good quotes to share. The first, was about womancraft, something I touched on in my new Red Tent Resource Kit book. In that book, I shared the story of how, at a meeting for breastfeeding women, I suggested having a women’s circle and calling it “Mothercraft.” Another woman at the meeting said it sounded interesting, but, “if it was called that, I’d never go.” All I could surmise is that it was because the word sounded too much like “witchcraft.”

“The early Christian Church considered the blood of menstruation to be ‘wasted babies,’ hence the mass killing of witches for ‘killing babies…women were burnt for knowing their woman-craft. That is to say, they understood their dreams, used herbs, and celebrated the process of menstruation. Witch means woman. Their craft, woman-craft, was, quite simply, understanding the mysteries of life” (p. 19).

Cycle to the Moon also suggests a neat idea of creating a “Red Box” for a pre-teen daughter. Either together with yourc2m3D daughter or on your own for a surprise, collect special items in a box to be given to her upon menarche. It can have jewelry, garnet gemstones, books, cloth pads, tea, and so forth. She makes the potent observations that how we welcome young girls into womanhood, sets the stage for how they will view themselves and their life cycles and transitions for a lifetime:

“As we hold the hands of our young sisters when they cross the menstrual threshold, we would be wise to remember that their experience of this cycle will affect them throughout their childbearing years and into menopause. There’s a red thread which weaves through these major themes of our life. Every moment is connected. Whatever we have learned and integrated benefits not only us, but the culture” (p. 41).

Robinson also writes about the idea how you treat yourself during menstruation as a “mirror of your life”:

“The simple truth is that menstruation is a mirror of your life. If you’re not honouring your body through healthy food choices; ample hydration; rest; playtime; calmly managing stressful events; positive thoughts; creativity and sleep; then it will show up in your menstrual cycle…your hormones will come to call; and they will demand that you rest. You might try and quiet them down with headache tablets or something pharmaceutical for cramps, but they will keep talking to you (even if it takes twenty years), until you get the message. If you don’t honour your body during the menstrual years, you are highly likely to suffer when you reach menopause…

What we do in our own local Red Tent Circle varies each month, but we start with introductions using our maternal May 2015 047line and a red thread to represent our connection to the women who came before us and who will go after us, we sing, we have a sharing circle where we “pass the rattle” and talk about our lives and have what we say witnessed and held in safe space. We do a guided meditation and journaling and then a project. In April we had a salt bowl ceremony and then did footbaths and in May we made moon necklaces. We close with a poetry reading and a song. There is tea and a “reflection” table with guidance cards, art supplies, and books to look at. At our May Circle, I shared these two quotes:

“The revolution must have dancing; women know this. The music will light our hearts with fire,
The stories will bathe our dreams in honey and fill our bellies with stars…”

–Nina Simons in We’Moon 2012

“A woman’s best medicine is quite simply herself, the powerful resources of her own deep consciousness, giving her deep awareness of her own physiology as it changes from day to day.”

–Veronica Butler and Melanie Brown

I asked the women to share their revolutions and their medicine. As they spoke, I realized that my “revolution” and my “medicine” were in the planning and facilitation of these Circles, as well as in the online Red Tent Initiation Program I will be offering this summer. I’m so glad I decided to go this direction this year.

May 2015 072

Categories: books, community, moontime, resources, reviews, ritual, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Womanrunes 101

front-coverWhat are Womanrunes and why use them?

Womanrunes are a unique and powerful divination system that use simple, woman-identified symbols to connect deeply with your own inner wisdom as well as the flow of womanspirit knowledge that surrounds you. Used as a personal oracle, they offer spiritual insight, understanding, and guidance as well as calls to action and discovery. Women who use them are amazed to discover how the symbols and interpretations reach out with exactly what you need in that moment. Women’s experiences with Womanrunes are powerful, magical, inspirational, potent, and mystical. The wisdom within them can be drawn upon again and again, often uncovering new information, understanding, and truth with each reading. They amaze me every day!

il_570xN.739519116_otniHerstory

On the Summer Solstice of 1987 after having worked with traditional runes, but sensing “something more” behind them, Shekhinah Mountainwater “fell into a state of enchantment” and in a single day created a 41 symbol woman-identified rune system to be used for divination, self-understanding, guidance, and personal growth.

In 2012, I was reading a back issue of SageWoman magazine from 1988 and stumbled across an article about Womanrunes. I instantly fell in love with them. They issued a powerful call to me. I scoured the internet for more information, where I eventually found a handout and pronunciation guide on an old website. I purchased Shekhinah’s classic book of women’s spirituality, Ariadne’s Thread, and began making Womanrunes sets at women’s spirituality retreats with my friends. After working with the symbols for some time, I began to sense more detailed interpretations for them. I began randomly choosing one each day, going to a sacred place in the woods with it and discovering what it had to tell me. Over the course of 18 months, this powerful practice developed in a complete guidebook to interpreting and using Womanrunes.

il_570xN.739519120_2cycHow to Use

The simplest and most common use for Womanrunes is to draw a card daily or when you feel an intuitive need for guidance. Draw the card and feel into it. What is it sharing with you? Read the companion interpretation and let it soak in. Many women are amazed by how these symbols speak to something deep within them. You may have the experience of feeling heard and answered when you choose a card and read its interpretation. Womanrunes provide a pathway to your own “truth-sense.” They open you up to your own internal guidance or to messages and inspiration from the Goddess, the Earth, or your spiritual guides.

smAugust 2014 055Some introductory layouts are included in the free download “Womanrunes Starter Kit” available via e-newsletter subscription at Brigid’s Grove (see sign-up box on right hand side). Womanrunes may also be used to do guidance readings for friends or clients. Messages from Womanrunes are not prescriptive or directive, instead they serve as a rich conduit to exactly what you need to hear and receive in that moment.

Many women have found that Womanrunes make an excellent addition to their Red Tent work. For Red Tent Circles with others, the Womanrunes book and cards can be available in a divination, guidance, or inspiration corner. Create a quiet, nurturing nook in your Red Tent space where the women can sit with the cards, drop into their own heartspace, and receive the message they need.

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Womanrunes in use in the Red Tent, in Lawrence, KS

There are many additional uses for Womanrunes, including creating bindrunes, runewriting, runespells. Many women also find them satisfying to draw or carve onto art, calendars, sculptures and more. Used in this way, the Womanrunes can attract their messages deeply into your life or can serve as potent declarations of intention.

Why Such Simple Images?

Many divination and oracle systems include beautiful artwork on the cards. Womanrunes are simple symbols and are, in fact, a type of symbol “writing” that speaks to a deep part of the soul. The clean focus and simplicity of the Womanrunes symbols evoke rich messages and soul guidance in their own special way that differs from the image-rich paintings of other systems. They are also very easy to use directly yourself—including them in your own art, drawing or etching them onto objects, and thereby writing them into your consciousness in a living manner. Used as a dynamic, hands-on, participatory system, Womanrunes become part of your own language of the Divine, the Goddess, your inner wisdom, and womanspirit truths.

What People Are Saying…

“I have never had a deck be so right from the first draw – in tune and intuitive. Molly’s insight and interpretations only add to the experience. Using my Womanrunes deck makes me excited for my daily centering.”

–B

“Great item for gatherings of women!”

–B.F.

“This set is great, high quality and user friendly.”

–E.R.

“Powerful, beautiful, inspiring! I am so looking forward to diving deeper into this, but am already seeing benefits from the wisdom in these pages, and I appreciate everything about this set.”

–S.B.

“Wonderful deck and guidebook, and so easy to use but with great depth. Thank you kindly for manifesting this vision into reality!”

–H.V.

“The cards & books are high quality & the descriptions are very easy to understand while leaving room for your intuition. I also appreciated the tree pendant gift – total & very pleasant surprise!”

–A.A.

“Excellent product! This deck and guide book are fantastic.”

–S.C.

“Beautiful and insightful. Enjoying adding them to my morning practice!”

–L.B.

How to Buy

The book alone is available via Amazon, Amazon UK, CreateSpace, and Etsy. A set including both the book and box of professionally printed Womanrunes cards is available directly from us via our etsy shop and via Amazon.

Book Description front-cover

Womanrunes: A guide to their use and interpretation

From the system by Shekhinah Mountainwater

In 1987, women’s spirituality foremother and wayshower, Shekhinah Mountainwater, experienced a “goddess-lightning” strike of inspiration and created a set of 41 woman-identified rune symbols for divination and personal growth. Twenty-five years later, I discovered Womanrunes and created an expanded means of interpreting, using, and exploring these powerful, magical symbols.Discover and explore…

*the herstory and development of Womanrunes
*how to interpret Womanrunes
*how to make your own Womanrunes
*how to lay out and read Womanrunes

Legacy

Our Womanrunes book was produced in cooperation with Shekhinah Mountainwater’s estate, ShekhinahWorks. Many memorial projects are in the works currently, including the digital publication of Shekhinah’s amazing book, Aridane’s Thread. You can keep up with all the projects and memories via the following sites:

Facebook

Shekhinah Mountainwater Memorial Fund (website)

YouTube

Website (with a planned expansion to http://www.ShekhinahMountainwater.com)

Shekhinah Mountainwater

Categories: books, divination, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, resources, reviews, Womanrunes, womanspirit, women, women's circle, writing | 3 Comments

Book Review: Voices of the Sacred Feminine

“As I continue writing stories about people who are transforming religion and culture through including the Divine Feminine in sacred rituals, hope stirs within me. As I hear their visions for the future of the Divine Feminine, my vision expands.”

–Jann Aldredge-Clanton, Healing, Freedom, and Transformation through the Sacred Feminine.

“…monotheists have described the divine as ‘Father’ for over 2,000 years. Even if we neutered the God, to be labeled only an ‘It,’ we would still have the masculine echo ringing in our ears for another thousand years. So maybe it would make sense to call her the Goddess for a millennium or so, if only to even things out. Then perhaps we could move on to something more gender inclusive.”

–Tim Ward, Why Would a Man Search for the Goddess

“I don’t believe the Goddess is stupid or suicidal. I believe she evolved human beings for a purpose, to be her healing hands and loving heart. We may be growing into the job.”

–Starhawk, Earth, Spirit, and Action: Letting the Wildness In

91DmgTw498LKaren Tate is masterful at weaving together a diverse tapestry of voices on her weekly radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from her new anthology by the same name, but Voices of the Sacred Feminine, the book, is a gorgeous tapestry as well. I was concerned it would consist only of interview style transcripts, and there are a couple of those (still interesting!), but most of the book consists of unique essays written by past guests on Karen’s show. The end result is essentially a textbook of feminist spirituality. As I read, I could easily imagine using this book as the foundation for a class on contemporary goddess spirituality.

Split into four broad thematic sections and one additional short memorial section, the book contains 41 essays from many leaders in their fields and produces a beautiful chorus of voices lifted together in celebration, information, and support of ecofeminism, the Goddess, and sacred feminine liberation thealogy. Addressing themes of sacred activism, sacred values, ritual and healing, and the Goddess as deity, archetype, and ideal, we hear from influential foremothers like Barbara Walker and Starhawk, scholars like Noam Chomsky and Riane Eisler, feminist thealogians like Charlene Spretnak and Shirley Ranck, practicing priestesses and clergy like Candace Kant, Patrick McCollum, Donna Henes, and Selena Fox. A number of the essays are by men, reminding us that Goddess has a significant place in the lives of many people and is not limited in gender-specific ways.

Karen’s gift in her radio program is in bringing people together to share their voices and her new book draws on this same strength. In a world that can sometimes feel fragmented, violent, apathetic, and distressing, the voices lifted in this book combine to offer an optimistic, hopeful, collaborative prayer for a just, care-based, earth-centered, cooperative way of living together.

Categories: books, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, resources, reviews, spirituality, thealogy | 2 Comments

Top Ten Books of 2014

I keep track of the books I read each year using Goodreads and in 2014 I read 100 books. In the past, I’ve done blog posts with all 100 books listed. That is cumbersome and not very interesting to the reader and simply too long! So, this year I’m offering a list of my top 10 reads in 2014. I’m running short on time lately and normally I would want to link all of these books to the right pages on Amazon and include cover photos, etc., but I’m just going to let go of doing that.

  1. Women Who Run with the Wolves–this one took me almost all year to read and was really a treasure once I let myself sink into it.
  2. Women, Writing and Soul-Making–this was the text we used in my Women Engaged in Sacred Writing class at OSC. It is a very good book and I quoted it in this post: The Women’s Hearth | WoodsPriestess
  3. Daring Greatly–I checked this out on audio from the library and really enjoyed it. It is about vulnerability and was very powerful in many ways. (Side note: I am over the moon about how very much fun it is to be able to “read” and do something else at the same time. It is like a miracle. I wish I would have gotten a library card for this purpose a very long time ago!)
  4. Lean Inanother library audio book read, this book by Sheryl Sandberg is about women and work. Very good!
  5. The Leader Within and Ritual Facilitation–both of these books are by Shauna Aura Knight whose blog I love reading and always learn from.
  6. Stepping into Ourselves—I absolutely loved this anthology of writings by priestesses (I also love Anne Key’s memoir, Desert Priestess). I recently had the opportunity to beta test the first of a series of priestessing classes based on this book as well. Top notch resource!
  7. Rituals of Celebration—an impressive exploration of the art of ritual. I wrote a little about this book in this post: Offering… | WoodsPriestess.
  8. Keep Simple Ceremonies–this book was recommended to be by one of my blog readers and I just adore it. This was my second reading of the book.
  9. To Make and Make Again—required reading for my ritual theory class at OSC, this book was difficult to get into, but then included all kinds of interesting gems about the power, purpose, and value of gathering together in sacred circle.
  10. Candlemas: Feast of Flames—I’d actually almost forgotten about this one since I read it almost an entire year ago! But, it was an excellent resource specifically for Imbolc and celebrating Brigid. I’m going back into this book now to get ready for our Brigid’s Grove anniversary celebration and family Imbolc ritual.

I would recommend all of these books as excellent priestess resources!

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Categories: books, feminist thealogy, liturgy, priestess, resources, reviews, ritual, women's circle | 2 Comments

Book Review: Naming the Goddess

namingthegoddess

“On any spiritual path, and most especially on one that is simultaneously a path of magical practice, our real progress and growth is measurable largely in the capacity to pass the challenges that are set before us. The easy parts of the journey are not the most important.”

–Philip Kane (in his essay on Laverna, Naming the Goddess, p. 232)

Naming the Goddess, published by Moon Books, is a collaborative work bringing together essays written by over eighty scholars and practitioners of Goddess Spirituality, including contributions from Selena Fox, Kathy Jones, Caroline Wise and Rachel Patterson. A unique aspect of this book is that it is a two-part project with the first part of the book containing a series of contemplative and scholarly essays and the second part serving as a “gazetteer” of different goddesses, making it useful both as a reference book and as well as one that encourages reflective spiritual thought.

The perspectives and thealogies explored in the first section are pleasantly diverse and engaging. I do wish this section was longer, because I felt like it was still getting going when the focus then shifted to the second, larger section of the book.

I confess I didn’t expect to particularly enjoy the gazetteer portion because I have a variety of goddess “dictionary” type books already and I expected much of the second part of the book to be a repeat of information I already have. However, the approach in Naming the Goddess was decidedly different. First, because many of the seventy goddesses included were uncommon deities with whom I was not familiar. Second, because the entries were written with a personal flair, often by women or men who directly work with the goddesses profiled, rather than solely being a generic overview of the mythology or cultural lore associated with the goddess. Having so many voices represented in one book also means that I found a number of other books to add to my wish list as well as diverse authors and bloggers to follow online!

Another enjoyable element of this volume of essays was the “bite-sized” nature of each piece. Most of the essays are 2-5 pages long, meaning the book can readily be digested in a stop-and-start manner that is very compatible with a busy life that includes four small children!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

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Categories: books, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, resources, reviews, thealogy | 1 Comment

Dance in a circle of women…

Dance in a circle of women
Make a web of life
Hold me as I spiral and spin
Make a web of my life…

Marie Summerwood

Apparently, it takes me a complete year to finish “processing” my annual Gaea Goddess Gathering experience and finally writing a blog post about it! At the moment, I’m embroiled in packing and preparations to go to this year’s event beginning later in this week and don’t really have time for in-depth posts…but, here I am. I’m traveling this year with two friends and meeting my mom, sister-in-law, and another friend there (as well as friends made at past events too). One of the things I realized last year was how much I appreciated the sense of connection and community with a larger circle of women than just our own small local group.

One of the songs we sang, danced, and drummed to around the fire at GGG in 2013 was Dance in a Circle of Women. I’ve been humming to myself as I pack for this year’s event. I created the pewter pendant design shown above based on the song and also this one, which we’ve had trouble casting properly and thus only a very small quantity exist (traveling with me, not available online yet!):

photo(23)

At this year’s festival, I am vending as well as giving a workshop on Womanrunes. I’m also going to be 8 months pregnant, but I won’t be bringing any kids with me this year (other than the one inside!), which hopefully means my attention will be less fragmented than in years past. I’m a little worried that the twin demands of my merchant booth and wanting to go to the various good happenings will create a similar sense of fragmentation though.

One of the things I enjoy about the GGG is collecting resources to bring home to my own community. I jotted down lyrics to these songs from the 2013 festival and have used some of them locally:

Make sacred space
Remember who you are

–Shawna Carol

(we sang this one during the main ritual on Saturday night and it was lovely in the darkness, surrounded by candles and be-robed women!)

Oh woman
Oh sister
She is me

Holding me
That I may hold you

Forever goddess

(we sang this one in the rain during the dedication of the 2013 temple to Brigid)

I am alive
I am beautiful
I am creative
I am…
I can do anything
I put my heart and mind into.

(this one is a raucous and delightful experience when shouted out in call-and-response format by the fireside. I’ve used it several times since experiencing it at GGG with Priestess Kim.)

So, as I described in a past post, the morning after our 2013 return, I’d typed up a list of fabulous insights gleaned from the experience and my ipad “notes” feature experienced a bizarre glitch never experienced before or since and deleted my entire list. I was able to remember some of them and re-type them, but after that moment they never made it into another post of their own:

…After my unbinding ritual, I walked slowly back to the house feeling light and contemplative. Inside, before anyone else woke up, I typed up all of my reflections and insights from this year’s [2013] GGG. I felt integrated, settled, whole, and at peace. I went to do laundry and when I was in the room, I thought of something else to include in my list which was going to be a later blog post. I returned to my screen where the insightful note had been waiting for me and it was gone. Never to be recovered. I could NOT believe it. All my insights! All my wisdom! Gone! I have to start over…But, then I really just had to laugh and cry a little, because here was another insight, another lesson, another hiccup in my story. And, not everything has to be a blog post after all….

via Be Still | WoodsPriestess.

Since it is time for 2014’s event already, I decided to just put up my unfinished, unformatted, incomplete, re-created list from last year and here it is…

  • I find it is hard for me to have “spiritual experiences” in a group, vs. alone. I do not necessarily know how to create that atmosphere for others. I know how to create a “retreat” atmosphere, but not really a “spiritual experience” atmosphere.
  • I was way too attached to past experience and therefore had difficult appreciating the experience in front of me.
  • I had to stare right in the face that I’d come primarily to collect, rather than share. I found myself feeling disappointed by certain elements on multiple occasions and realized that part of it was my own fault for wanting to collect rather than share.
  • I had a disquieting sensation of the women there not knowing who I am—and, I didn’t show them. I felt like I kept what I am capable of and good at hidden. I realized I feel taken for granted a little in own community. I came wanting to “receive” again, but could have/should have given. I unbound my 2012 medicine bundle when I got home and I absolutely should have done so before (literally and metaphorically). Released ties that bind…
  • Context matters and brings compassion
  • Unlike the preceding year, I had several experiences in which I felt encouraged to be less—to dim my shine…

[from 2013 post on my other blog]

…When I attended the GGG this year, one of the realizations I came home with is that sometimes I feel like people are trying to get me to be less (more about this some other time). And, I remembered a session I had with a healer who did a somatic repatterning process with me—one of the beliefs she tested on me was, “I am not enough.” It got a marginal response, but then she tested, “I am TOO MUCH.” And, THAT is the one that tested as true. I wonder how much about myself that I try to change or that I struggle with actually comes from the fear of being, too much. Too intense. Too active. Too talkative. Too much thinking, too much writing, too many ideas, too many projects, too much waving of my hands and pacing when I talk. Too, too, too, too much.

via Blogging, Busyness, and Life: Part 1 | Talk Birth.

Previously quoted here: via The Warrior-Priestess | WoodsPriestess.

  • As referenced above, not everything a story or blog post.
  • Also as referenced earlier, my attention felt very split by having my toddler daughter with me. I very much look forward to the experience of going alone this year, while I also look forward to eventually taking her with me again when she is a little bit older.
  • I still lack confidence/standing in personal power in a variety of settings/contexts.
  • The experiences that were the most potent were those unanticipated or planned for, like a misty morning walk around the lake with my sister-in-law, or watching the full moon rise over the ritual circle.
  • It is possible to forge a connection with the land somewhere other than where I live.
  • I like new experiences—fresh surprises. Unexpected experiences hold most power. What I was looking forward to/expecting was a letdown, what I did not have preconceived notions about was rewarding.
  • I very much appreciated and enjoyed the opportunity to spend quality time with my sister-in-law and before this experience had never spent time with her one on one without my brother or my mom also around.
  • Another unlooked for and unexpected experience was when I was volunteering as as temple priestess in Brigid’s temple and the main altar caught fire. I beat the flaming vines and tablecloth and candles out with my sandal while wearing my toddler daughter in a baby carrier asleep on my chest. It was a fiery initiation into service to Brigid and I think was actually the beginning “spark” of our business dedicated to her (I heard in the woods during a woodspriestess experience last year that Brigid does not need/want me as a priestess [that service is to Gaia], but she wants us as “dedicants.”)
  • Being a merchant was really fun. It was also a significant expenditure of energy.
  • I had several experiences and conversations that told me I might be overlooking the capacities of those around me.
  • I noticed that while being an excellent bonding and sisterhood experience there might also be an inhibiting factor to be present with existing friends and relatives (both in the sense of me possibly inhibiting them and them me), because we have such history and past, established means of interacting with each other/what we expect from each other, etc., so perhaps we were embarrassed to “let it all hang out” (emotionally and literally!), because we have an existing friendship rather than a festival only relationship/friendship. However, at the same time, it was also an opportunity to deepen, grow, and know each other better and I’d much rather have that than a once-a-year-festival-based friendship, that is likely less whole and authentic, though also perhaps less complicated too.

I also made a lot of observations about the role of non-facilitating members during rituals as well, previously explored in part in this past post:

…I witnessed how easily a ritual can lose power when the co-circlers do not take the ritual seriously. It is easy and simplistic to point to the Priestess as the one who “failed” to hold the energy of the circle, but the responsibility for the circle belongs to all its members. Ruth Barrett in Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries explains the responsibilities of circle participants as such: “Ritual Priestessing is not for the faint of heart. If you fear chaos, the unexpected, or the unforeseen, choose another vocation. A ritual facilitator regularly finds herself in challenging situations that are not at all what she originally planned. In order to facilitate others, you first need to know how to be a good participant. I don’t believe that it is possible for a woman to priestess/facilitate a ritual effectively until she first knows how to truly participate in one…

I would also add “avoid heckling.” What does this mean? In my observations at the GGG, I noticed a trend for circle participants to call out different comments in a joking way, either across the circle or to the woman facilitating the ceremony. While it seemed to be done in a light-hearted way and perhaps was the local custom of this group of women, the effect on the group as a whole was striking. The “heckling”—at least to me—led to palpable energy “leaks” in the ritual container and resulted in a commensurate drop in the power and focus of the circle.

via Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess.

Continuing my jotted notes:

  • No heckling
  • The middle of ritual matters—a successful ritual has to have a working phase
  • It is easy to be critical and when you’re just watching.
  • Low energy? How do we contribute to that? Group members hold powerful responsibility too!
  • Leadership matters and is big responsibility and sacred duty.
  • Letting go of self-pressure, perhaps in the name of “self-care,” can have a definite negative impact on others (this is more a judgement by me of others, though I want to take heed of what I noticed so I don’t do the same thing to other people—I noticed that phrases like, “cut yourself slack” or “be flexible” or “go with the flow,” or, “don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” can be used as excuses for doing a bad job, letting other people down, and failing, basically).

And, some pictures (captions will show if you click to enlarge):

Related past posts:

Gaea Goddess Gathering: Listen to the wise woman….

I make the effort

The Warrior-Priestess

Co-Circling & The Priestess Path

Be Still

Moonpriestess

Woodspriestess: Brigid

 

 

Categories: community, friends, GGG, Goddess, night, priestess, retreat, reviews, ritual, self-care, spirituality, thealogy, womanspirit, women, women's circle | 3 Comments

Ocean Seminary College

“The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. Sit. Feast on your life.” –Derek Walcott

(quoted in The Mother’s Wisdom Deck)

“Human connections are deeply nurtured in the field of shared story.” –Jean Houston

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m working on the Thealogy/Goddess Studies D.Min at Ocean Seminary College and took a little pitstop for an M.Div, completed in July. I get occasional questions on my Facebook page or via email about how I feel about the program and I’ve been promising for a long time that I would write a blog post about it. In general, I love it! You do have to be extremely self-motivated to succeed with the programs though. There is not a lot of feedback and can be long delays in communication. So, lots of self-discipline, self-motivation, and self-starting is very key to actually making progress. Luckily, I’ve always been very self-motivated, so the self-organized structure works for me.

After finishing the M.Div, I am slowly picking back up my D.Min work too and expect to finish my dissertation next year. I very much enjoy my work with OSC and have grown exponentially personally, professionally, and thealogically as a direct result of diving into the work there and really doing it, but there are two things to go into the experience with—be prepared to be VERY self-directed and self-motivated and be prepared to be patient. The staff is small and somewhat overtaxed and so it can take a LONG time to get any feedback or response on your classwork. I learned to just move forward at my own pace and appreciate the feedback when it came. And, no one will hold your hand or push you to get started and to do the work, that drive and motivation has to come from within and is self-directed. The classes themselves are extraordinarily well-organized and comprehensive and my mind boggles at all the work that went into creating and planning them. But again, though, your progress through them is going to have to come from within!

These are the classes I completed as my Ministerial/M.Div courses and D.Min foundation work:

02.01.004 Stigmatization of the Witch in History Spring 2012

This class was emotionally difficult due to the intense violence experienced by women during the “witchcraze” years, but amazing in terms of what I learned and the connections I made. As I’ve referenced in prior posts, I really made the sociological connection between current political climates and past events and they are not as far away from each other as we may like to believe.

02.02.001 Goddess Traditions in Contemp. Society I Fall 2011
02.02.002 Goddess Traditions in Contemp. Society II Spring 2012

These classes were both helpful in refining my personal thealogy, developing a framework for my beliefs, and in providing me with material that later became blog posts or essays for other publications!

02.02.003 Historical Roots of Goddess Worship Fall 2012

In this course, I realized that Goddess herstory is simply not my area of interest. I don’t need to be convinced of the role and presence of goddesses throughout human history and so I had to really kind of force myself through this class which felt repetitive after all the reading and writing I’ve already done on this subject.

02.02.004 Introduction to Thealogy Spring 2012

This class was a tremendous academic challenge that really pushed me to grow, expand, and refine my own thealogy and my own conceptual understanding of this field. It was hard, mentally exhausting work. This class took me a year to finish and it twisted my brain in many ways and really made me dig more deeply.

02.02.005 Matriarchal Myth I Spring 2013
02.02.006 Matriarchal Myth II Fall 2013
02.02.007 Matriarchal Myth III Winter 2014

See my notes on Goddess History above. These classes got repetitive and I felt like, I got this already. I kept returning to the same themes, topics, quotes, and references because I really have already built my “case” and understanding in this area. However, the final class in which we had to read and respond to several books that attempt to debunk or challenge goddess-centered narratives was very valuable at, again, pushing the boundaries of my own understanding and my ability to articulate it and make a case for my own understanding or interpretation.

02.02.012 Birth, Death, Regeneration Fall 2012

This was a fun and experiential class, exploring the classic Maiden, Mother, Crone archetypes in one’s own life. I did some art projects for this one.

02.02.015 Thealogy & Deasophy Spring 2013

Ouch! Another major brain stretcher. I feel really good about my work in these classes, but they were hard work.

02.02.013 Goddess Wheel of the Year Spring 2012

Another fun and experiential class.  It is a very personal class about your own experiences and creating ritual and ceremony within your own life and kind of dancing with the Goddess throughout the year.

02.01.005 Sacred Groves: Covens & Npg Groups Spring 2012
02.01.006 Ethics & Professional Practice Summer 2012

Closely related, these two classes were really important in forming a clear vision for organizing, facilitating, and maintaining a spiritual group as well as practicing in a professional manner. July 2014 048

02.01.007 Ritual & Liturgy Summer 2012

Very enjoyable and practical class in creating meaningful rituals for specific occasions. I did a lot of work in this class that I went on to use for other purposes.

02.01.017 The Role of the Priest/Priestess Winter 2013

While there was some overlap here with the other professional practice courses I already mentioned, this was a personally very valuable class that really encouraged me to dig into the heart of priestess work and my own relationship to it. Lots of deep stuff as well as fears and insecurities came up for me in this class. I explored themes related to this class in a series several posts about practical priestessing on my SageWoman blog.

03.01.033 Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life Summer 2013

This course was a required year-long course. I found it helpful, relevant, and valuable, though perhaps I need to revisit it on an annual basis to get it to soak in completely!

04.01.001 Ecology & the Sacred Fall 2011

This course was my first course and I loved it. It was the first time I’ve spent any time with formal ecological concepts and I really loved digging into something that was a new subject for me, but that could be easily and intimately tied to my own spiritual understanding. It was in this course that I joked about writing a Thealogy of Chickens and it was in this course that the seeds of my Woodspriestess experiment, as well as identity as such, were planted.

E: 04.04.002 Ecofeminism I Spring 2013

This class was an elective and I really loved it.The connection between the exploitation of the earth and the exploitation of women comes into sharp focus as well as the connections between the human body and the world body. It helped inform the later class in breastfeeding and ecofeminism that I taught for an independent study student at another college.

Doctoral classes completed:

02.02.016 Goddess Ritual Theory Winter 2014

I really enjoyed this class. The orientation was theoretical and conceptual rather than practical—as in we were writing about and exploring the whys of ritual, rather than creating rituals.

02.02.017 Adv Thealogical Praxis I Spring 2014
02.02.018 Adv Thealogical Praxis II Spring 2014

Brain. Stretched. It is both funny and fitting that the classes that were the most intense and difficult to slog through were those with titles close to “Thealogy,” the very subject of my degree. These classes helped inform my M.Div thesis project and dissertation, however.

02.01.008 Crisis of Faith & Inspiration Winter 2014

This course uses a very helpful, highly recommended book by Judy Harrow called Spiritual Mentoring. This was another one of the practical, helpful, nuts-and-bolts of direct practice types of courses that are so important to have along with the academic, theoretical coursework. Ritual Recipe Kit for Women's Ceremonies (digital kit, mother blessings, maiden ceremony, menarche, crone, sagewoman)

02.01.014 Crafting Rites for Npg Clergy Spring 2014

This class I “tested out of” in a sense, by submitting my work for my Ritual Recipe Kit. Good stuff here!

Classes remaining to complete D.Min:

02.01.009 Empowering Members
02.02.019 High Priestess
02.01.015 Death & Dying

02.02.020 Goddess Priestess Practicum (10 Credits)—requiring a 40 hour priestess internship, this is almost complete as I just need to finish getting reviews/evaluations from women’s group members.

02.02.022 Goddess Thealogy Dissertation (20 Credits)—working on it! I have a 300+ page word document of possible content, but need to focus and center in on this now that my thesis and M.Div are complete.

Currently registered for elective courses:

02.02.009 Goddess Mothers: Shekhinah Mountainwater

Couldn’t resist this one after all my Womanrunes work!

01.02.001 Shamanism, Creativity, & the Arts I

Mask-making! How could I refuse?! This class is an experiential course in which you explore many concepts through art as well as through a culminating final project. I was packed with ideas for this class when I enrolled in it, but I became so focused on my required coursework (and other projects) as well that I let this course become inactive and will have to resume it later.

I’d like to close this post with two excerpts from my original application to OSC in 2011. It has been a wonderful, deep, complex journey so far and I look forward to continuing my work…

Who/what inspires you? June 2014 045

I long to speak out the intense inspiration that comes to me from the lives of strong women.” –Ruth Benedict

I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong.” –SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

I am most inspired by the everyday women surrounding me in this world. Brave, strong, vibrant, wild, intelligent, complicated women. Women who are also sometimes frightened, depressed, discouraged, hurt, angry, petty, or jealous. Real, multifaceted, dynamic women. Women who keep putting one foot in the front of the other and continue picking themselves back up again when the need arises.

I am also inspired by women from the past who worked for social justice and women’s rights—women who lived consciously and deliberately and with devoted intention to making the world a better place. Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton. Women who have studied and written about feminist spirituality—such as Carol Christ, Hallie Ingleheart, Patricia Mongahan, and Barbara Ardinger–are also a source of inspiration. As a mother, I find additional inspiration in the self-care encouraging writings of Jennifer Louden and Renée Trudeau.

My children have provided a powerful source of inspiration and motivation. I wish to model for them a life lived as a complete, fully developed human being. After birthing three sons, I gave birth to a daughter in January, 2011. I always envisioned having daughters and felt well-prepared to raise a “kick-ass” girl. Having sons first presented me with a different type of inspiration (and, to me, a deeper challenge)—to raise healthy men. Men who treat women well and who are balanced, confident, loving, compassionate people. I came to think of myself as a mother of sons exclusively and was very surprised to actually have a girl as my last child [updated note: not really my last child as I am now pregnant again!]. When I found out she was a girl, my sense of “like carries like/like creates like” was very potent and my current need to participate in the creation of a world in which she can bloom to her fullest is very strong.

My own inner fire inspires me—my drive to make a difference and to live well and wisely my one wild and precious life. Good conversations, time alone with my journal, time alone outdoors sitting on a big rock, and simple time in the shower provides additional fuel for this inner fire…

Reasons for applying to your specific program of study and how this fits into your personal and spiritual goals for yourself.

I have been “dancing” with Goddess ideas and imagery for about seven years now and I feel deeply called to pursue my study on a more committed level. To me, this program with Ocean Seminary College represents an integration of something I feel with my mind, heart, and spirit. My whole being. In women’s spirituality, I glimpse the multifaceted totality of women’s lives and I long to reach out and serve the whole woman. I wish to extend my range of passion to include the full woman’s life cycle, rather than focus on the maternal aspect of the wheel of life as I have done for some time. I want to create rituals that nourish, to plan ceremonies that honor, to facilitate workshops that uncover, to write articles that inform, and to teach classes that inspire the women in my personal life, my community, and the world. I am currently the vice-president of my Unitarian Universalist church and I facilitate women’s spirituality classes and retreats. In these capacities, I plan programs, give presentations, and facilitate ceremonies (including the occasional wedding). I feel I have already contributed a lot to my community based on my own self-study and exploration and now I feel ready to take that further—to go beyond what I’ve been able to learn, discover, and share under my own power, by studying with a formal program.

I have both a scholar’s heart and a heart for service and at the root, this is what makes me feel like I am a good match for Ocean Seminary College’s program in Goddess Thealogy. I wish to live so that my life becomes a living, embodied prayer for social change and to do work that is both spiritually-based and woman affirming…

July 2014 097

 

Categories: feminist thealogy, Goddess, liturgy, OSC, resources, reviews, ritual, spirituality, thealogy, thesis, writing | 4 Comments

Book Review: Goddess Calling

 goddesscalling“Any woman who has birthed or raised a child, had a book published, started an organization, manifested a temple – they all know the strength, courage and determination women possess…”

–Karen Tate, Goddess Calling

I’ve been a huge fan of Karen Tate’s radio show Voices of the Sacred Feminine for several years. The voice of Karen and her versatile, diverse, talented, inspirational guests keep me company every week on my commute to teach at a military base.

Goddess Calling sounds just like Karen. I could hear her voice in my head throughout the many essays compiled in this book. Readers familiar with her radio show will recognize content, themes, and quotes as they appear sprinkled through the text.

There are two features that set this book apart from many of its other modern counterparts: first, the explicit recognition and discussion of the connection between the personal and political. Goddess is more than a nice idea or a friendly, beautiful archetype, she can transform the world. Second, the third section of the book contains a nice selection of guided meditation exercises, perfect for use with groups. So, Goddess Calling is beneficial both to the solitary Goddess woman, helping to contextualize their personal, private experiences with cultural, political, and social realities, and for the ritual priestess as she seeks to plan services, retreats, or programs for members of the community.

But I’m not just talking about politics. I’m talking about stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves, trying to accomplish things we might feel are a bit beyond us. It is a journey of becoming and of growing we all must take, and we cannot be afraid of the journey. It’s the journey that steels us. It is the trying,the praying, the stumbling and picking yourself back up, the seeking, the very act of doing that staves off fear and fills us with hope. The destination doesn’t necessarily hold the reward. The reward comes from that which has been gleaned from the journey. The destination is just where you take a deep breath,reflect and relax after the journey has molded you. It’s where we take a respite before beginning again to meet the next challenge or climb the next mountain.

–Karen Tate (Goddess Calling, p. 109)

Goddess Calling is available from Karen’s website, from Changemakers Books, by request from your local bookstore, and from Amazon.

Related posts:

Top Thirteen Most Influential People in Goddess Spirituality

She did what she could….

Do Women’s Circles Actually Matter?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary pdf version of the book for review purposes.

 

Categories: books, feminist thealogy, Goddess, readings, reviews, spirituality, thealogy | 2 Comments

Spell for Family Balance

Cross-posted at Pagan Families.

For a number of years we’ve had a family mantra: our family works in harmony to meet each member’s needs. At times, I’ve felt like I’m repeating it through clenched teeth. At times, I have felt that none of our needs are being met well and at times I’ve felt like harmony is a distant, unattainable treasure. However, we keep using it and sometimes, sometimes it feels like we’re there. I do not subscribe to the ideal of the self-sacrificing parent. I refuse to repeat the cliche that “everyone has to make sacrifices” and I refuse to see my work in parenting as a sacrificial endeavor. Our family works in harmony to meet each member’s needs. Each member of the family is important. Each person, including both parents, has needs and our family unit is responsible for working together to help each other and to contribute our best to a healthy, well-functioning, happy, harmonious family.

I am a professor who works mainly from home and teaches outside of the home once a week. My husband and I have a shared goddess art business. We homeschool our kids. We know we are lucky to have two parents in the home almost full-time and to be able to live on the income produced by only one out-of-the-home day per week for one parent (though this arrangement was also only possible beginning July of last year after careful planning, hard work, and a leap of faith). I teach on an eight-week session schedule. The final week of the session involves piles of papers to grade and final exams to give. While we know it is coming and I’ve been keeping this schedule since 2009, it throws our family out of balance every time. Our family works in harmony to meet each family’s needs. Hahahahahahahahahahaha! ::::sob:::: I begin to feel as if no one is getting what they need from me and I’m not getting what I need from myself. I’m snappy at my husband and feel beleaguered and put upon and unappreciated and unsupported. I start casting around for things to quit because somehow, I must STOP doing everything. I must reclaim myself and some sensation of harmony. Then, magically, the session ends. I did manage to do it all…again. I am often left with a lingering sense of frustration and dissatisfaction and am often heard to make the vow, “next session will be different,” and typically attempt to enact sweeping family changes that will Change Our Lives ™.

Recently, I reviewed a jazzy little book called Goddess Spells for Busy Girls. Written by Patheos writer Jen McConnel, this book is a collection of 80 simple spells using readily accessible materials and focused on 25 different goddesses. Each goddess is carefully chosen for relevant spells and appropriate cautions are issued about not calling upon a goddess like Sekhmet lightly or on a goddess like Aphrodite with an irrelevant issue. The book is somewhat like a “recipe book” of suggested spells for busy women, with each mini-ritual requiring as little as five minutes (or one hour. It is up to you!).

Written in a casual and conversational tone that feels intended primarily for single or non-parent women in their 20’s-30’s, the book’s lightweight attitude towards magic and the “sparkle” added by goddesses may feel either accessible and friendly or insufficiently serious, depending on your own spiritual path. However, as a parent who always has her eyes open for material to add to my own family’s full moon rituals, I found the brief length of several of the spells to be very appropriate for working with my children. Related to our family mantra, this Spell for Family Balance immediately caught my eye:

No matter who constitutes your family, sometimes it can be hard to please everyone. Use this spell to help you find balance in tricky situations.

You will need:

  • About six inches each of red, black, and white thread (I use embroidery floss, but yarn works, too.)

1. This spell is best done outside, or at least in a well-lit room. Take the three strands of thread. Tie a knot using all three threads at once, and try to position your knot as close to the center as possible.

2. Say, “I am bound by ties of love.” Starting at the knot first, begin to braid the three threads. Tie off the end. Now, begin to braid the threads beneath the knot. Tie off the threads.

3. Put this charm in your kitchen (the junk drawer is an ideal place). Whenever you are feeling stretched or stressed about your family, take out the charm and look at it…

(p. 48)

While I may need to repeat this every eight weeks, I found it a simple and soothing affirmation of the ties that bind, and that bond, our family.

Our family works in harmony to meet each family’s needs.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

 

Categories: family, Goddess, parenting, reviews, self-care, spirituality | 3 Comments

Desert Priestess Book

desertpriestess

Desert Priestess: a memoir (Amazon affiliate link included)

I absolutely loved this book! Written by Anne Key, Desert Priestess: a memoir, is a memoir of her three years as the priestess at the Sekhmet Goddess Temple in Nevada. The memoir is beautifully written in a very honest manner with the narrative including her self-doubts and follies as well as her priestessly moments. After I finished it, I felt like my heart was yearning to take a pilgrimage to the desert, as well as to further deepen and refine my own priestess path! I highlighted several sections of the Kindle version of the text to share:

Writing about her role as a priestess, Anne explains:

…And I can only say that, as priestess, I worked so very hard to open my heart to each person who came, to meet each in perfect love and perfect trust of the structure and beauty of our desert wreath. To do this, I realized that I had to be not only sure of my purpose and strong in my stance but that I also had to see each person as an integral and necessary part of our circle. To do that, I had to be clear about myself and my intentions and I had to stay connected to the Divine…

I realized early in my tenure as priestess that I must stay connected to the Divine to allow things to come through me instead of from me. Everything depended on that: my ability to lead ritual, my ability to stay centered, my ability to understand those who came to the temple, my ability to see my way out of difficult issues. Striving to stay connected to the Divine made another point painfully apparent: I had to be clear, to the depths of my soul. I had to understand what I was, where my limits were, and accept totally who I was. I had to be able to be fully and totally present at each moment of ritual, wide open to everything, and firmly, firmly rooted. This was a real challenge…

Key, Anne (2011-03-29). Desert Priestess: a memoir (p. 45). Goddess Ink. Kindle Edition.

Another very good section of Desert Priestess was Key’s exploration of why it matters to call the Divine “Goddess”:

I lecture at various academic venues on Goddess Spirituality, and I continue to be amazed at the answer to my question: “Does your god have a gender?” While the wording would seem to make the question rhetorical, people almost always answer: “No, my god does not have a gender.” Given the statistic that over 75 percent of people living in the United States claim Christianity as their faith, when I lecture I assume that most of my audience is Christian. When I ask them to describe their god, to tell me what that god looks like in art, many times someone will mention a long white beard, which firmly answers the gender inquiry. But even if they don’t go as far as to mention a beard, when I ask them if their god is a woman, they are shocked and absolutely, defiantly sure that their genderless god is not a woman. We women who create life, the highest of all divine acts, cannot be considered a god.

Between my experiences at the temple and in academia, it has become clear to me that most women in twenty-first-century American culture never see themselves as divine. And it is no wonder. The most predominant images of women in the modern media are as accoutrements to products such as cars or purses. This to me is one of the greatest gifts of the goddess temples, because images of the Female Divine are important. They are important because they begin the process of consecrating women’s bodies as divine. When we as women begin to see our bodies as a reflection of the Divine, then our bodies are removed from the sole category of “object of the male gaze” to corporealized divinity, the embodiment of the Divine.

When women come into the temple, they see themselves, and they see themselves venerated. They see themselves in various shapes and colors, from the round and almond-eyed Madre del Mundo to the black and slim Sekhmet to the brown and regal Virgen de Guadalupe. We women have lived our lives trying to see ourselves in the image of the Christian God, living with the cognitive dissonance of the sound of Charlton Heston’s voice as God, in Michelangelo’s beefy finger, and in the picture tacked on the wall in Sunday school of a man’s aged and ageless face whose white beard melts into the clouds. We live in this culture of the image of God as white and male. As if this were not enough to get the point across, most of those who represent God in the Christian religion—the priests, preachers, and pastors—are men. And if women do represent the Christian God, there is almost always a controversy involved. Still, we women have persevered to find ourselves in the Divine and to see ourselves as divine, and even more courageously to represent the Divine. A sigh of relief automatically escapes me and the cognitive dissonance melts away when I am in the presence of an image of the Divine that is female. Images of the Female Divine are important because they embody the divine qualities of the feminine. The roles of mother, healer, guide, protector, lover, provider, and nurturer combine with the qualities of compassion, justice, truth, fertility, strength, and love to present women in multiple dimensions…

Key, Anne (2011-03-29). Desert Priestess: a memoir (pp. 50-52). Goddess Ink. Kindle Edition.

Sculptures hanging out in the sunshine!

Sculptures hanging out in the sunshine!

She goes on to make this important point: “It is of course no small wonder why graven images are so tightly controlled by religious traditions.” (p. 52) Sometimes I feel like this is what I’m tapping into when I make my own goddess sculptures—a resistance to tight control over graven images and over personalization of divinity as female in essence!

Later, Anne writes about creating a sisterhood of priestesses and she describes their vow to each other in a lovely way:

As sisters, we are one another’s truth tellers. We are one another’s loving and honest mirrors. We advise, even when we are not queried. And we let go so that each may fly on her own wings. Our sisters are our bonds with the deepest mysteries. As sisters, we are the ones who bleed, we are the ones who birth, we are the ones who nourish, we are the ones who weave the web, and we are the ones who cut the cord. As women, as sisters, as priestesses, we stand at the doorways of life and death, bonded by the cycles of our bodies and our lives.

Key, Anne (2011-03-29). Desert Priestess: a memoir (p. 57). Goddess Ink. Kindle Edition.

She also writes about creating ritual and liturgy in a desert climate:

At the beginning of each ceremony, we honored the four directions and an element associated with each: east and air; south and fire; west and water; north and earth. Many times when the directions are called, they are written with a wet, lush environment in mind: cool breeze, deep black earth, rushing rivers, dense forests. But these images did not reflect the desert land, a dry, thriving environment.

I wrote a call of directions specifically for this land, for this place, for this temple:

Winds of the mind, open free.

Breath of life, breathe in me.

Red flame of truth, burning pure.

Spark of life, ignite me.

Water of my soul, blood of earth.

Spring of life, wash me.

Bones of rock, sand, and earth.

Roots of life, ground me.

Key, Anne (2011-03-29). Desert Priestess: a memoir (pp. 90-91). Goddess Ink. Kindle Edition.

And, finally, another section I marked was in her description of feeding sweet little birds outside her window, only to see them snapped out of the air and eaten by a hawk. She says,  “Of course, I would have preferred that the hawks eat the mice. Much as I loved the cute little mice, the mess they left in our kitchen cupboards was disgusting and infuriating. But the birds! The little birds had done nothing but entertain us.” (Amen!) But, then she goes to make the best point ever about nature: “Obviously, this cycle was not about me, or what I thought was cute” (p. 116).

I really recommend this book! It is of particular interest to priestesses and to those interested in Goddess Temples and women’s spirituality in general, but I also think it would be interesting to people who like memoirs and stories about women’s lives and simple, yet profound, adventures.

Categories: books, nature, priestess, quotes, resources, reviews, spirituality, womanspirit, women | 2 Comments

Book Review: Living Goddess Spirituality, a Feminine Divine Priestessing Handbook

A woman who connects with Goddess, connects with a most vital, ancient, powerful inner part of herself and she is awakened. It is this awakened state that is so empowering to women and downright frightening and dangerous to a patriarchal society.” –B. Melusine Mihaltses

Living Goddess Spirituality: A Feminine Divine Priestessing Handbook is a wonderful book! Containing lots of good resources and thoughtful commentary, the book explores twelve goddesses and associated rituals and workshop ideas for women’s spirituality circles. It also includes a chapter on priestess initiation and guidelines for starting a Goddess study circle.

I have a couple of small critiques in that some of the print is extremely tiny, some material is repeated from the author’s previous book, there is quite a bit of repetitiveness in general, and not all suggestions are fully developed (i.e. for each goddess there are multiple “workshops” suggested which include things like making various items. However, no further information or instructions for most of these things are included).

I don’t usually connect strongly with individual goddess imagery, but the way in which Living Goddess Spirituality is written brought in the significance of many different goddess images and I found myself learning and thinking about specific goddesses in different ways. I also loved all the different chants, ritual outlines, and invocations included. Really great pictures and some beautiful art enhance the book.

Great circle resource and a good resource for Goddess Priestesses!

Two chants I particularly enjoyed and that were new to me:

Eight Beads Chant
Girlseed
Bloodflower
Fruitmother
Spinmother
Midwoman
Earthcrone
Stonecrone
Bone…

Earth, Moon, Magick…
In the Earth, deep within
There is a Magick, I draw it in.
In her Caves, in the Trees
Hear her Heartbeat, Pulsing through me.
When I Rise, I feel her Love
with feet Grounded, I’m soaring high above,
In the Earth, deep within
There is a Magick, I draw it in
Ancient Moon, my Soul reveres
With my Singing, I call you here.
When this flame, ignites tonight,
Priestess dancing, Under the moonlit night…
In the Earth, deep within
There is a Magick
I draw it in…
There is a Magick, I draw it in (3x)

Additional lines for a familiar, favorite drum circle song:

Mother I Feel You…

Mother I feel you under my feet,
Mother I hear your heartbeat
Mother I feel you under my feet,
Mother I hear your heartbeat

heya heya heya yah heya heya ho
heya heya heya heya heya ho

Mother I hear you in the River song,
eternal waters flowing on and on.
Mother I hear you in the River song,
eternal waters flowing on and on

heya heya heya yah heya heya ho
heya heya heya heya heya ho

Mother I see you when the Eagles fly,
Flight of the Spirit gonna take us higher
Mother I see you when the Eagles fly,
Flight of the Spirit gonna take us higher

heya heya heya yah heya heya ho
heya heya heya heya heya ho

(Adapted from my quick review on Goodreads)

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links in image/book title.

Categories: chants, Goddess, poems, priestess, readings, resources, reviews, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women's circle | Leave a comment

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